I don’t typically engage in political debate on Facebook. I use Facebook a lot, but mostly to chronicle my life. I tell about my family, I post pictures of adventures, I make pleas trying to normalize mental health care, and I post trailers to movies I’m excited about. When I post something political I try VERY HARD to be as benign and as diplomatic as possible because I don’t like to antagonize differing opinions just for the sake of antagonizing them. Since Trump got elected I simply ignore the posts from differing perspectives and will only engage if someone brings their disagreements to MY posts.
But here’s something I’ve learned: There seems to be a huge variation on the emotional scale as to what bothers some people compared to what bothers me. I see people engage in debate/arguments/flamewars/trolling ALL THE TIME on ALL levels of discourse from ALL sides of politics and I just can not IMAGINE what it’s like to live like that because the few…VERY FEW conflicts I’ve engaged in STILL HAUNT MY DREAMS.
Last night is a perfect example. I posted something relatively benign pointing out the difference – legally – between the Cake and the Red Hen situations. And how the reason why the Cake story mattered to me was it was a good case for people like me to support sending through the courts in an effort to try to push towards making sexuality a federally protected class like race and religion. The Red Hen case did NOT matter to me because Sarah Sanders was not part of a group I was wanting to see recognized as a federally protected class.
But someone chimed in – not to debate the legal premise I established – but instead to discuss their opinion that the Red Hen people acted cruel and not-like-adults. I honestly didn’t even want to engage in the that side of this debate because, like I said, those things STRESS ME OUT. I weighed the pros/cons of getting into the “debate” about whether the Red Hen people were cruel and whether Sarah Sanders has been cruel in her life enough to deserve it. That was not the point of my post so I did not want to engage in that discussion. I tend to ask myself, “Is this person coming at the looking to learn more about my views? Or are they just pissed off at my view?” And if they’re just pissed off I don’t engage.
But I did want to point out that this person never comments on ANYTHING I post. And I post a LOT of personal crap on Facebook. I post about my sick Mom and my travels to help her, I post about my mental health, I post about my kids’ mental health, I post about my grief about losing my Dad. This is why my Facebook is REAL WORLD FRIENDS because I get very personal there and I don’t love the idea of any troll popping in to check it out. And I so I felt the need to point out that fact to this person, they don’t even ever randomly “like” a photo. We have had NO interaction on my FB wall that I can remember. EVER.
So, I mentioned all of that and that I had no interest in entertaining “drive-by political wars” on my wall. Which was REALLY hard on me but I felt like it was an important thing to put out into the ether: Please don’t come to my Facebook wall JUST to engage in a political war. I don’t mind discussing politics with people I connect with in other ways, but I don’t want to do it with people who ONLY want to connect during a political debate.
If you don’t love me at my 500 running selfies? Then you don’t deserve me at my liberal snowflake posts.
AND Y’ALL. EVEN THAT TINY ITTY BITTY CONFLICT HAS GOT ME ALL WORKED UP. I’ve asked myself 100 times if I was too harsh. I tossed and turned all night worrying if I went too far. Was I mean? Was I terrible? Am I no better than the person who started the drive-by war? WHAT IF EVERYONE HATES ME NOW?
How do people who engage in REAL political wars on Facebook every day – HOW DO THEY DO IT? I make ONE argumentative comment that actually has NOTHING to do with politics and just with political debates on Facebook and I barely slept at all last night worrying about it! I AM SUCH A DELICATE AND FRAGILE LITTLE FLOWER. I could never actually handle writing publicly about controversial stuff because I could not handle any sort of conflict and I would just have to stick my fingers in my ears and pretend it wasn’t happening or else I would NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.
Of course, there’s also the side of me who does NOT want to be the White Moderate that MLK wrote about. I want to speak up when I feel like justice is not being served or when I feel like the vulnerable are being taken advantage of. My compromise is that I post my feelings about a lot of issues on Facebook at all and I try to do it in a way that may educated people who are curious. I do believe Black Lives Matter, I do believe people should be able to live their gender truth no matter what genitalia they were born with, I do believe in female reproductive rights, I do want some type of universal healthcare, I do NOT support mass incarceration, I do not mind paying a higher tax rate than the people who make less money than I do (the cost of bread doesn’t change with income so a “fair” tax rate would actually be terribly unfair), I believe the cost of education has gotten out of hand, and I believe white privilege is real. I talk about all of these things all of the time. I read about these things all the time – including views or coverage that does not entirely support my beliefs.
I hope all of this would be enough to keep me out of that “white moderate” class who just sits by in silence because the issues do not directly affect me. Because I just can NOT bring myself to engage in Facebook political battles when this one VERY BORING pseudo-conflict disrupted my sleep for an entire night.
HOW DO OTHER PEOPLE DO IT?